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Florida Hotel, Motel, and Resort Liability - Posting of Lifeguards and Other Safety Measures


In Florida, millions of tourist visit the State every day to enjoy the amenities and swimming pools at the many hotels, motels, and resorts. Many Florida residents also take vacations to cities like Orlando, Pensacola, Fort Lauderdale, and other localities to also enjoy the rest and relaxation offered by these same hotels, motels, and resorts.

One would think that there is a duty in the State of Florida to post a lifeguard at swimming pools and aquatic areas. Well, actually there is no specific all encompassing duty to post a lifeguard at a swimming pool at a Florida hotel, motel or resort. You may have noticed signage at a hotel that prominently reads "No Lifeguards - Swim at Your Own Risk" or similar signage. While the safety of visitors and especially children would be better provided for by the posting of a lifeguard, the State of Florida does not generally mandate such a requirement. From an economic standpoint, many smaller hotels and motels could not justify the expense of the posting of a lifeguard during swimming hours. For bigger hotels and resorts, the expense could see be afforded but there are both business and liability factors to consider when posting a lifeguard in place. If a hotel does post a lifeguard, then the lifeguard must act with due diligence and reasonableness in his or her position as a lifeguard.

As for children, it should be noted that under Florida law a child under the age of 6 years old cannot be held liable as a matter of law. A child between the ages of 6 and under 18 can be held liable in part or whole for negligent acts of the child. Furthermore, a parent or other adult responsible for watching or supervising a child may also be liable in part or whole or his or her negligent acts. There is Florida case law on point with regard to the posting of lifeguards and other issues involving the operations of a hotel, resort, motel, or public swimming pool or aquatics areas.

In Adika v. Beckmann Towers, Inc. , 633 So.2d 1170 (Third D.C.A. 1994), the court noted that "An innkeeper in Florida has no duty to post a lifeguard on a public beach. In fact, this court has held that a hotel has no duty even to post a lifeguard at its own swimming pool." See Frost v. Newport Motel, Inc., 516 So.2d 16 (Fla. 3rd D.C.A. 1987). The court also noted that a "condominium association was under no duty to its members to provide a professional lifeguard at the association's pool." See Hemispheres Condominium Association v. Corbin , 357 So.2d 1074 (Fla. 3rd D.C.A. 1978).

Most personal injury cases in the State of Florida including those related to drownings and swimming / aquatic related personal injuries and wrongful deaths require the showing of four essential elements to establish a legal right to compensation which are as follows:

  1. Duty;
  2. Breach of Duty;
  3. Causation; and
  4. Damages.

As noted above, the first element is that of "Duty". If there is no duty to begin with, then it will not matter if one or more of the other elements can be established. For instance, if a child tragically drowns in a hotel swimming pool through no fault or breach of duty on the part of the hotel, then, even though it was tragic, a case or claim cannot be pursued. It should be noted that each claim or case should be evaluated on its own facts or merit. For instance, if the hotel pool had a broken gate and a small child entered the pool area, this may be a basis for liability against the hotel, motel, or resort if the child drowned.  The analysis would be that the hotel had a duty to have a reasonable barrier or fence around the swimming pool. The hotel breached the duty by failing to maintain and repair the fence or gate. This, in turn, caused or allowed the small child to enter the pool area. The damages would be the wrongful death of the child and the associated pain, suffering, grief, and loss of the parents.  It should be noted that each drowning incident and personal injury sustained by a child or adult needs to be evaluated based on its own facts, circumstances, and, yes the applicable Florida law.

David Wolf is a Florida Personal Injury Attorney with over 30 years of experience in serving his clients and community. He is the author of 12 books including the book titled The ABCs of Child Injury - Legal Rights of the Injured Child - What Every Parent Should Know . This book has chapters on Swimming and Aquatic Related Injuries, Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. David Wolf provides a free consultation for all personal injury and wrongful death cases.  In addition, these cases are handled on a contingency basis - No Recovery - No Fee. Get D Wolf On Your Side - At Your Side.

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